Protect Tenant Rights

GOAL 2.

Protect tenant rights to reduce instances of predatory landlord practices, eviction, price increases, and poor quality.

Grant Ave., Chinatown, San Francisco by Tony Webster via Wikamedia Commons

In neighborhoods where there is low demand for housing, landlords have every reason to rent to low-income tenants, keeping prices low. But as the housing market tightens and demand increases, another tenant — frequently a higher-income one — is always waiting to move in, and there is thus less incentive for landlords to respect the needs of lower-income renters. Landlords might evict lower-income tenants so they can fix up their property and charge greater rent. Tenants lose housing options, and are less able to stand up to predatory tactics as doing so risks eviction. Landlords may use this extra power to extract more rent or skimp on repairs. This dynamic results in exploitation and episodic homeless for low-income tenants. Policies must expand tenant rights and reduce predation.

Policy Innovations

We propose three policies that would prevent such outcomes before they start by reducing instances of eviction, price increases, and poor housing quality. Click below to learn about each policy.

Policy Inspirations

Several of our case-study cities have already implemented policies that help protect vulnerable tenants from exploitation. We believe that these policies serve as a baseline for what cities should be doing to combat inequitable development.

In August 2017, New York City became the first place in the country to provide a right to counsel for all tenants in housing court. The measure is designed  to fight back against illegal eviction, over charges, and harassment, and it applies to households making $50,000 a year or less for a  for family of four, who usually cannot afford a lawyer. For the city of New York, this means increasing expenditures on legal aid by $93 million.

Designed for: Neighborhoods in Early-Stage Gentrification

Neighborhood Hallmarks: currently affordable, many original residents, prices just starting to increase

Most targeted to neighborhoods where many residents still live in naturally-occurring affordable housing, but increasing prices and higher-income people coming into the neighborhood reduce incentives to keep prices low and quality good.